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NMA Reader Poll: Best EPL Center Back 2019-20

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Caglar Soyuncu and Mbwana Samatta - Leicester City v Aston Villa - Premier League
Soyuncu has been the surprise contender so far this season
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

In the modern age of football, center backs have had to adapt and embrace change. Although there is still a market for the “hard-tackling, old fashioned” center back, the position has certainly moved on a bit. Many teams in the EPL and further afield are continually opting to play out from the back, requiring the modern day center back to be comfortable in possession and sufficient at passing.

The fact remains that the position of a center back (traditional or not) is as important as ever, with center backs always natural leaders on the field, often captaining their sides. Now let’s take a look at some of our contenders for the best center back of the 2019-20 EPL season so far:

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Çağlar Söyüncü (Leicester)

What a revelation this combative center back has been this season! After losing their star defender in Harry Maguire in the summer, the Leicester faithful had reason to be concerned. However, Brendan Rogers put his faith in the young Söyüncü, and these concerns promptly disappeared. The Foxes are now level with their clean-sheet total from last season (10) with 9 matches left to play (we hope) and have conceded an average of 1.03 goals per game, bettering last season’s average of 1.26. Söyüncü has been largely to thank for that with his performances (missing just 1 game this season), growing stronger each game and establishing a formidable partnership with Jonny Evans. At the business end of the pitch, Söyüncü has chipped in with a goal and assist.

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Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool)

The current holder of the PFA Player of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season, Liverpool’s defensive rock doesn’t really need much introduction. Van Dijk has featured in every single minute for Liverpool’s dominant campaign so far, the only player to do so. He has scored more goals than any other PL center back (4), has completed more passes than any other defender in the league (2478), and his discipline is excellent for a center back (1 yellow card all season). The only drawback is, for all Liverpool’s dominance, they haven’t been as strong at the back as they were season, within 1 goal (at 22) of last season’s total conceded but with 9 games yet to play.

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James Tarkowski (Burnley)

Considering his consistently solid performances and European competition experience, it’s surprising to most that Tarkowski’s last England cap came over 18 months ago; he is certainly underrated. He has established himself as one of the league’s best center backs, playing every single minute of the EPL so far. That’s pivotal to Burnley achieving 11 Clean Sheets (bettered only by Liverpool’s 12) and has chipped in with 2 goals and creating 4 big chances. It’s fair to say that Tarkowski likes to get stuck-in, always towards the top of the defending stats. He has the most headed clearances this season (81), 2nd most clearances (148), second most blocks (37) and 3rd most aerial battles won (144). His reward for getting stuck-in is 8 yellow cards.

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John Egan (Sheffield United)

To be honest, this could have been any of the 3 Sheffield United center backs, as they’ve all been excellent this season. They have 2nd best defence in the League this season (25 goals conceded) and have amassed an impressive 10 clean sheets; helping them on their way to compete for a European place. Sitting at the heart of their defence, John Egan just edges it for me with his reading of the game and focus on defence. He has made 32 clearances and 21 Blocks, winning over 61% of his tackles, all better than his Sheffield United counterparts.

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Harry Maguire (Manchester United)

Harry Maguire joined Manchester United last summer from Leicester for a sensational transfer fee of £80million, the highest amount ever paid for a defender. Naturally, expectations for Maguire have been high. Maguire has certainly improved the Man Utd defense; overall it has conceded 8 fewer goals than at the same point last season, with Maguire playing every single minute of the campaign. He has made more passes (1824), more interceptions (53), won more aerial battles (136) than any other Man Utd teammate. Maguire has achieved a record 18 clean-sheets in all competitions this season.

(all statistics quoted are from the official premier league website)

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What do you think of our selections? Do you think more recognition should be on center backs who are part of sides lower down the league? Who should be the CB partnership for England on most recent form?

Please cast your votes in the poll and comment on your reasons why!

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Poll

Who is the best Center Back of the 19/20 EPL Season so far?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Çağlar Söyüncü
    (4 votes)
  • 71%
    Virgil Van Dijk
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    James Tarkowski
    (0 votes)
  • 4%
    John Egan
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Harry Maguire
    (0 votes)
  • 4%
    Other (please name in the comments)
    (1 vote)
21 votes total Vote Now

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